An Unending Calling
During the week leading up to the signing of the Officer’s Covenant, the Training Principal at the College for Officer Training meets with the soon-to-be Lieutenants and discusses the nature of the Covenant and its importance to an officer’s life and ministry. During one of these lectures, it was said that it is impossible for an officer to ever state that their work is done in a particular community. Those who say that they have done all they can do and are ready to move to their next appointment are blind to one of the strongest statements in the Covenant: “…to live to win souls and make their salvation the first purpose of my life…” Though the officer’s desire is for every person in their community to be saved, there are always unsaved among them as well as those who need to move deeper in discipleship. The work of an officer is never complete.
Every officer should be motivated by the desire to see others saved. By affirming the Officer’s Covenant, the officer testifies that their life is dedicated for the purpose of winning souls. That motivation and dedication should be at the forefront of an officer’s mind so that they see the world through the lenses of soul-winning. It should be the driving force, along with their personal relationship with the Lord, which motivates them to get up every morning and work diligently for the Lord. The desire to see souls saved can be the encouragement needed in times of distress. Each and every day – every interaction – brings the opportunity for an officer to live out their unending calling to win souls.
The Heart of Officership
At the heart of an officer’s calling is the desire to see people come to salvation. It is a motivation for what The Salvation Army does. I believe it is safe to say that everything we do, either directly or indirectly, has the ultimate purpose of bringing people to salvation. Even the officer’s administrative work has the purpose of bringing souls to Christ. There can be times in an officer’s ministry where they come to a task or duty that they are not thrilled about – those things that seem secondary to their ministry passions. Most officers have those few things they just do not enjoy. Even in those tasks, God can use them for his salvation purpose.
As the Covenant states, soul-winning is a priority for officers. It is a priority for two reasons: we do not know when that person may die, and we do not know when Christ will return. There is an urgency to the message of the gospel. This urgency requires a radical response of evangelization of the world. Though this will not happen overnight, each person’s faithful obedience and action can bring the gospel message to those who need it.
Outcomes vs. Outputs
In the administrative world, we often hear about inputs, outputs, and outcomes. For example, when making cookies, I have the input of all the ingredients, the energy used for the oven, my own time and effort in making the batter, etc. The output would be three dozen cookies for a character building program. The outcome is that the three dozen cookies brought smiles and joy to the kids in the program.
It is easy for us to focus on our outputs. We seem to have a statistic for everything, including seekers and visitation. We record when people make a decision for Christ not only for reports but also to remind us to follow up with them. Here is why outputs regarding soul-winning matter: they signify the ministry effectiveness of the officer and the spiritual health of the corps. Though the output does not give the whole picture, it does show whether or not something is happening regarding saving souls. Even attendance statistics evidence whether or not people are being grown as disciples through Bible study, Sunday School, and worship.
However, we should also be quick to look at the outcomes of ministry. For example, a client may come in seeking assistance and have the opportunity to chat with the officer. The officer’s ministry to that person may have encouraged them to become active again in their church. Though there may be no statistical record that the person was brought back to Christ, the outcome of those few moments is that a person is seeking the Lord again and desiring to grow deeper in their faith.
In order to reap the rewards of outputs and outcomes, an officer must input themselves as a living testimony to what God has done in their lives. They must see those who are lost without their shepherd and plead for their return. Without sowing the message of the gospel in the lives of those in our communities, there will be no harvest.